The DP World Tour won its legal battle to be able to suspend and fine LIV Golf players who participated in contentious events without permission.
The UK-based Sports Resolutions independent panel ruled in his favor on Thursday, meaning Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer were ordered to pay the £100,000 ($125,000) fines originally imposed within 30 days.
The jury found that the 12 players had committed “serious breaches” of the European Tour’s code of conduct by taking part in LIVGolf events last year, despite their requests for release having been refused.
Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour, welcomed the court’s decision. “We are delighted that the tribunal has recognized that we have a responsibility to all of our members and has determined that the process we followed was fair and proportionate,” he said.
“In deciding the level of these sanctions last June, we were simply administering the regulations that were created by our members and that each of them signed.
Dustin Johnson tees off on the seventh hole during the second round of the LIV Golf Invitational – Portland at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club on July 01, 2022. Getty
“It is of course regrettable that resources, both financial and personnel, which could otherwise have been deployed in our organization, have been affected by this lengthy arbitration procedure.
“However, with the clarity provided by today’s decision, we look forward to continuing to focus on our 2023 global calendar, while continuing to plan for 2024 with the valuable support of our many partners and stakeholders. .
“We will now carefully review the details of today’s decision with our Board of Directors, Tournament Committee and Legal Advisors, and take appropriate action in due course. »
The Tour fined members attending the inaugural LIV event at the Centurion Club last June and suspended them from the Scottish Open. Poulter, Spain’s Adrian Otaegui and South Africa’s Justin Harding appealed, allowing LIV players to compete in European Tour events.
Sports Resolution heard the case in February over five days of private hearings. Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, Graeme McDowell, Martin Kaymer, Sam Horsfield, Richard Bland, Shaun Norris, Laurie Canter, Wade Ormsby, Bernd Weisburger, Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace have also appealed.
Garcia, Schwartzel, Grace and Otaegui withdrew their appeal just before the hearings.
It remains to be seen whether Poulter and Westwood will appeal the verdict or forfeit their membership of the DP World Tour, thus ending their participation in the Ryder Cup.
In his pre-Masters press conference, Rory McIlroy – who has been an outspoken critic of LIV Golf players and its general manager Greg Norman – said he could not comment before the official verdict was announced, but he added: “If this is the result, then it will definitely change the dynamics of everything”.